‘A Question of Training’ by Chris Oakley

Be that as it may, the therapeutic goal, however diffuse, surely involves some rejection of the suffering entangled in the symptom, or at least some distancing from it, and as there is little to suggest the training analysis concludes with a decision not to become an analyst, it can barely be sustainable that this is the genuine cause of the obligatory nature of the rule. But what if what the trainee is supposed to be learning about or initiated into is a particular method. But this too is not without it’s difficulties for surely each psychoanalysis is to be tailored to the particularity, the singularity of that particular patient. If the trainee follows too slavishly the method of their own analysis are they not going to be caught up in a misleading mimesis of something that was self generated and may have precious few implications for anyone else? But is there a confusion via this emphasis on knowledge. Perhaps no one enters into psychoanalysis to gain knowledge but rather to undergo a particular experience. That may very well be the case, but if so, is anything learnt from it? Not according to Jacques Lacan, who had this to say in 1977 “There is no analytic formation (aka training). Out of analysis an experience evolves which IT IS A COMPLETE MISTAKE to classify as didactic…experience is NOT didactic.” No particular reason to give him the final word, but this emphasis on ‘complete mistake’ is delightfully emphatic and leaves us with the question, if nothing is learned from the analysis, no instructions are given, then what is it for, how is it that it is deemed to be unequivocally essential?

By 1938 Anna Freud in a paper on “The Problem of Training Analysis” (“The Writings of Anna Freud” New York: Inter. Univ. Press 1968 pp420) addresses some of these difficulties, pointing out that training analyses appear to commit a veritable catalogue of so called ‘technical errors’. These range from the analyst disclosing their interests and their opinions, either directly with the trainee or in their presence, to the very real possibility that there would be an active encouragement of an identification, both personal and professional, at that time dubbed “the most ruinous seduction of them all.” Leaving aside what is the only too real possibility that it is precisely these ‘deviations’ that contribute to these analyses being some of the best available, let us underscore this issue of identification. Have we cracked the code? Could this be at the heart of the unflagging insistence on this rule? Is what was always wanted merely more of the same? The name of the game being the re-production of more analysts, all subject to structures and strictures of con-formity, all suffused by the dead hand of the institutionalised?

The very notion of training will, in all probability, inevitably involve subjection to a master or seriality of masters’ didactic influences, at least for some period during any trainees’ development. But has it not struck one that the unfolding history of psychoanalysis has been saturated by the peculiar phenomenon of so many, having undergone a ‘training analysis’, ending up as if they have been ‘raised in captivity’, or to use Roustang’s phrase, become subjects of “dire mastery”? I cannot be alone in having been led to believe that a potential way station in any analysis is a form of a rite of passage, that what may come to pass is the ‘crossing of the fantasy’. The fantasy being the fabulous fantasy that there really is someone, not merely supposed, but who actually is in the place of full knowledge, fabulous because a fable, a fiction, irretrievably imaginary. To come into the world is to see the imaginary as just that: imaginary, and yet what one witnesses in whatever one might take the psychoanalytic communities to be, a ‘mad horde’ indeed, are so many who are perfectly happy to fly under the flag of some officialising representation such as ‘Kleinian’, ‘Jungian’, followers of the ‘Lacanian orientation’ or what have you, suggesting that the fantasy pretty much holds sway. Transforming an analyst into a master, into an intellectual guide is to remain irretrievably locked in the thrall of hypnosis. Hopefully by now you will all have realised that the desire is to thicken the plot, to invite you to get lost in the thickets of problematic, to engage in arenas of conflict, no answers but merely to return to that question: were Derrida to want to practice as a psychoanalyst why on earth would anyone wish to stand in his way?